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Giving back . . . Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch (centre), pictured with line mechanics (from left) Adam Taylor, Daniel Paisley, Max Wright and Simon Ford, is proud to give back to the community through the company's discount scheme. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Network Waitaki consumers are getting a discount on their power bills, as part of a $1.72million payout by the power lines company they own through a trust.

Most residential and small business electricity consumers will get a credit on this or next month’s bill of $83.93, labelled as “Discount from Network Waitaki”.

This year’s payout takes the total Network Waitaki discount since 2010 to more than $21million, chief executive Geoff Douch said.

“Because of our trust ownership, it’s a way for us to, effectively, share the proceeds of our business operation back with our customers,” Mr Douch said.

“We don’t have shareholders in the traditional sense, so we’re not paying a dividend [out] to someone who owns us. We either take the proceeds and reinvest them in the network and the business, or we redistribute them back to the customers.”

Network Waitaki also gave back to the community through its annual community sponsorship programme, tertiary education scholarships and trades training opportunities.

The company budgeted for a $1million base discount, and anything above that was based on a formula. Last year, the company paid out $1.36million to consumers.

“The amount of discount that’s paid out is based upon, basically, the financial performance of the company.

“It was an interesting year last year. We had a tough start with Covid, and a few other bumps in the road as the year went on, but there’s also been some really positive stuff that’s come out of it as well.”

The company had a very strong irrigation season, and “put a lot of effort” into growing its contracting business outside the region.

Network Waitaki had a large maintenance and renewal programme to ensure the network remained ”up to spec”, and also had some growth projects in the pipeline, he said.

“A bit of network reinforcement, increasing capacity in a few areas, quite a big programme of investment back in the network,” he said.

“Also some investment in technology and plant and equipment.”

The company had been going through “quite a period of growth” over the past year. It had boosted its electrical services capability and taken vegetation management, which had previously done by contractors, back in house.

“We’ve taken on quite a few new people during the year – and that’s including four new trainees who are local people . . . three line mechanic trainees and one electrical trainee,” he said.

“They’re people to go through a trades training programme and do an apprenticeship over a few years.”

Electricity consumers can find out their discount amount by visiting networkwaitaki.co.nz and entering their ICP number. To qualify for the discount, a connection must have been active and connected to the Network Waitaki’s network on February 26 this year, as well as being a customer of an electricity retailer on that date.